Citrus: Fresh, Plastic or Glass

I don’t use lemon juice a lot but the last time I needed some for a recipe I saw how many options there were. The same options for lemons will apply to limes. Let’s discuss citrus!


Fresh lemons are going to require the least amount of handling/processing after juicing. The plastic sticker goes in the trash and the rind can be composted.

Kitchen tips: zesting is easier on a whole lemon and lemon rinds can help clean the garbage disposal if ground up.


– City of Austin apartment and condominium composting information is here.
-The Texas Farmers Market at Mueller and Lakeline Mall accepts compost of a limited sort. Check their website for limitations. They’ve requested contributions be frozen or refrigerated to help reduce smell, and dropped off near the end of the event if possible. They don’t mind if it’s BPI-bagged or loose. Check for changes to the process due to COVID.
– If you have curbside composting service neighbors, consider asking if they’ll let you use their cart. There’s most likely room.
– The City of Austin recommends finding a community garden near you to drop off compost. Mueller’s community garden doesn’t currently allow outside drop-off, so check the community gardens’ websites before going over.

My favorite City of Austin flyer for compost information is here.


Growing up the lemon and lime shaped juice bottles were what I was most familiar with. They’re the easiest to use and store the longest.

The plastic tag goes in the trash and the bottle with lid goes in curbside recycle.

Mesh bag lemons were new to me but I know little oranges come in these so I wasn’t surprised. This netting is only recyclable in the TerraCycle All-in-One box.

DIY/reuse sites will recommend you sew, roll or somehow turn this into a dish scrubber. Please do not do that as this sheds microplastics. This sheds tons of tiny bits of plastic just sitting on the counter, it will be worse if you wash it down the drain while cleaning.

This plastic box of lemons was new, I’ve not seen citrus in plastic boxes but it can easily be recycled in your curbside recycling cart.

A reminder on plastic items: even if you can find a way to recycle it, plastic can only be recycled/reused once or twice before the material degrades to the point it’s no longer usable and will need to be trashed.


This is the lemon juice Costco sells. It’s in glass bottles, with a metal plastic-lined lid and shrink wrapped in a some kind of plastic cellophane.

Glass is infinitely recyclable. That being said, it breaks and is heavy to ship so it’s not a favorite at the recycling center (metals are). If you have a choice between plastic and glass, go with glass because of the recyclability factor. Because the lid is so small, it would need to be collected separately for “scrap metal” recycling at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center or put in a TerraCycle All-in-One box. The plastic cellphone wrapper is not malleable so it cannot go in plastic bag/film recycling. Basically if the plastic isn’t flexible where you can poke your finger through it, and it’s not rigid which is what goes in the curbside single-stream carts, it goes in the trash. The plastic cellophane could also go in a TerraCycle All-in-One box.

If you aren’t able to get loose fresh produce or bulk items, look at all your options and make a decision based on how you will be required to process the waste, and what your current personal needs and abilities are. Don’t stress yourself.

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